Publication details [#14267]

Li, Peggy and Linda Abarbanell. 2018. Competing Perspectives On Frames Of Reference In Language And Thought. Cognition 170 : 9–24. 16 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


A study showed that Dutch-speaking children preferring an egocentric reference frame for the description of spatial relations, and Hai||om-speaking children using a geocentric frame found it difficult to recreate small-scale spatial arrays using their system, which was incongruent to their language (Haun, Rapold, Janzen, & Levinson, 2011). Five experiments have demonstrated that both groups of speakers can use both systems with flexibility. Following Haun et al. (Experiment 1), only English speakers could use their language-incongruent system when the instructions were given in their non-preferred frame of reference. Tseltal-speaking children were capable of using an egocentric system when the instructions were given avoiding the left/right distinctions (Experiments 2-4). Many of them did not know left/right language oppositions (Experiment 5). The results, therefore, suggest that task constrains are responsible for the perceived ease in the system to use, as opposed to the choice of language.